Satellite Communications System
From The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Author: Christensen, Bruce L.
Communications satellites, as here referred to, are small radio transmitters orbiting the earth. Typical geosynchronous orbits are 22,300 miles above the equator. These tiny man-made moons make possible transmission of voice, data, radio, and television signals to every point on the globe. The introduction of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to satellite broadcasting came during the first satellite exchange between North America and Europe, which included a performance by the tabernacle choir in front of Mount Rushmore, South Dakota. Since that time the Church has developed its own private satellite distribution system. In 1982 it purchased transponder capacity on Westar IV from the Public Broadcasting Service. Transmitting, or "uplink," facilities were built in City Creek Canyon near Salt Lake City from which signals from the tabernacle and elsewhere could be beamed into space. Receiving, or "downlink," antennas were installed at many stake centers across North America. The Church has global communication capabilities, enabling signals to reach cable operators, stake centers, and other satellite receiving facilities.
Programming sent by Church satellite includes conferences, educational and professional training, firesides and special religious programs, entertainment, and Brigham Young University sports. Most important, this system brings the General Authorities closer to the Saints throughout the world.
Satellite communications systems allow for open as well as encoded transmissions. This flexibility permits Church use of the system for public as well as private communications. The private use holds the promise expressed by President Gordon B. Hinckley in a general conference address: "We are now expanding the miracle of satellite transmission to develop the means whereby the membership of the Church, wherever they may be, can be counselled in an intimate and personal way by [the Lord's] chosen prophet. Communication is the sinew that binds the Church as one great family" (p. 5).
Hinckley, Gordon B. "Faith: The Essence of True Religion." Ensign 11 (Nov. 1981):5.
Pace, Geoffrey L. "The Emergence of Bonneville Satellite Corporation: A Study of Conception and Development of a New Telecommunications Service." Master's thesis, Brigham Young University, 1983, pp. 12-79.
BRUCE L. CHRISTENSEN